Service of White Coat Syndrome: Hooray for the NYU Langone Emergency Room

March 25th, 2024

Categories: Customer Care, Hospitals, Medical Care, Training, White Coat Syndrome

Some of the Peanuts gifts I’ve received–and love. The socks made it into this post.

I have a thing about pickles—they must come from a barrel and never a jar. I love the Peanuts gang, and I am petrified of—though grateful for—doctors and all things medical. You know this if you know me.

I flew in the air and crashed down on the sidewalk last week and for the next three days watched my foot increasingly resemble a blue balloon as the swelling from ankle on down began to hide my toes. Friends pleaded with me to get an Xray or to do something. I kept thinking that home remedies like ice, Arnica, Tylenol and leg-in-the-air under pillows would improve things, but they didn’t.

On Sunday morning I was horrified by what I saw. [I couldn’t look at my skinned other knee.] I called my friend DK, who dropped everything—she had plans–to come to my rescue. As luck would have it, we couldn’t get to an Urgent Care office for an Xray because of a mini marathon that had overtaken my neighborhood. So, we walked/hobbled, to the NYU Langone emergency room about six blocks away.

An emergency room visit for me has been my worst nightmare. My heart was beating so hard that the staff taking my vitals gave me an electrocardiogram. They were darling, patient and kind. One lowered his voice when I mentioned white coat syndrome and said, “Relax! We’re not doctors!” And they kept telling me, “Take deep breaths.”

I won’t put you to sleep with too many more details because I will resemble a grandmother boasting for 10 minutes about her three-month-old grandbaby, a future Yale graduate for sure, who smiled at her for the first time.

The emergency room experience was nothing like what I expected. In the waiting room there were no patients dripping with blood or passing out from fever. I hardly sat down before the admitting process started. Waiting for my Xray, after I met the Emergency Room doctor whom I liked, one nurse advised me how long he thought the wait would be. He subsequently brought me a blanket because it was freezing. A volunteer dropped by and asked if I needed anything. Nobody so much as hung my tote bag on the hook behind me on the wheelchair without first asking if it was OK.

The doctor didn’t just ask me to “take off your sock.” He said, “Please take off your Snoopy sock.” That put me at ease in a strange way. The very young hospital transport staffer who took me back from Xray was lovely. To explain what her colleague, who passed us, had told her– “It’s gotten to be like a Monday out there” — she said that the now bustling waiting room had filled up with mini marathon runners.

My badly sprained foot is still a mess—much uglier and more painful than when I broke it 10 years ago.

I don’t think I’ll ever overcome my out of proportion fear of all things medical. On my return home I went up in the elevator with a fellow tenant—a stranger. I raved about the hospital. He smiled and said “I’ve just returned from 22 days at that hospital. The doctors are wonderful.”

Do you have irrational fears about medical or other things that most others appreciate and/or take in their stride? Did you also experience a great emergency room visit?

View from my balcony. NYU Langone is on the left/East side of First Avenue, starting at the blue buildings.

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15 Responses to “Service of White Coat Syndrome: Hooray for the NYU Langone Emergency Room”

  1. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: I have had only positive experiences at NYU Langone Emergency Room & Urgent Care at MSK (equivalent of ER). Despite all the negative press I can say, in my experience NYC Hospital staff and care far exceed our local hospitals in Dutchess County. I am happy your experience was positive and hope you are on the mend. I never would have guessed you were a Snoopy fan. My Grand-Niece is the voice of Marcie in the new Snoopy series in Apple and at NASA!

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    One of my neighbors in the apartment is from India. She works for a major corporation in Manhattan. When she returned from several weeks at home, I slipped under her door a very sweet and appropriate Peanuts cartoon with Woodstock and Snoopy hugging after one returned from a long voyage. She said she adores the Peanuts gang. I suspect they touch hearts worldwide and folks of all ages. Most of my friends are fans!

  3. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Glad you had a good ER experience and are mending. I too recently had a positive ER experience at formerly Downtown Beekman Hospital, now part of NYPresbyterian. My sister had a good ER experience at NYPresbyterian/Weill Cornell. However, same sister and brother-in-law each had numerous awful ER experiences at NYPresbyterian/Columbia in Washington Heights. Bottom line, economically- disadvantaged communuties use ERs differently, are beyond overcrowded and understaffed, and wait times to see doctors, get scans, await a room or discharge, etc. are much, much, much longer.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Linda,

    I felt awkward bothering staff at an ER but as the option for an Xray at an urgent care place wasn’t possible–when I finally got up the nerve to do something about the mess on my ankle/foot– because of the mini marathon that clogged the streets in my neighborhood, I had no choice. I suspect that in poorer neighborhoods people use the ER as a doctor’s office which doesn’t help the crowding aspect.

    I didn’t mention something else that impressed me at NYU Langone. Nobody asked for my insurance information until the very end. In fact, I had to tell people that I’d not shared it with anyone yet. Probably from some movie I saw or article I read ages ago, I had a vision of a patient looking for the information on entering an ER as they hemorrhaged all over the place.

  5. Martha T Takayama Said:

    I am generally fearful of doctors and tend to be mistrustful, based on unfortunate life experiences with very serious errors!
    I did have surprisingly considerate and thorough care at a recent visit to Boston’s Brigham and Women’s ER to eliminate a possible heart issue. It was grotesquely overcrowded with patients lined up head to toe against all the ad ministrative desks, counters and corridor walls, but the personnel were kind, attentive, thoughtful and thorough. I was sent home with a good report and relieved spirits grateful for the unexpected positive treatment.

  6. Linda Levi Said:

    Linda on Facebook: Shocked no one asked about your insurance coverage. Usually that happens right away. Lucky you.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    Thank goodness you received an encouraging report.

    A friend who is all too familiar with emergency rooms told me that Sunday is the best day to visit one because they aren’t crowded. So if folks can try to have their accidents or needs happen on Sunday…that is helpful good tip.

  8. Lucrezia Said:

    Yes, I’m terrified of just about everything. Only one trip to the Emergency Room as a patient. Northern Westchester Hospital did itself proud 37 years ago, and still does according to a friend who has been making recent visits involving both herself and family.

    My fondest memory is of that intravenous attachment which a nurse called “Henry.” As health improved, “Henry” and I could be seen walking up and down the hall!

  9. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    I could cotton up to a nurse who calls an intravenous Henry. I think the doctor who noticed Snoopy on my sock understood a way of humanizing a situation for a terrified patient.

  10. Edward Baecher Said:

    Edward on Facebook: I hear constant horror stories of Vassar Hospital up here, my brother John was up in Kingston during his last days and that place was like a prison, somehow or another I got it finagled that he was moved down to Mount Sinai, talk about Night and Day that place was like heaven. I’ve heard so many say real healthcare is in NYC.

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Edward,

    You were a miracle worker. Mount Sinai’s critical care unit was topnotch but how you wangled the transfer was incredible. You never cease to amaze.

  12. Jodie Sternberg Said:

    Jodie on Facebook: Jeanne, so glad to hear you’re on the mend. My Peanut does too!

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Thanks Jodie! and to Peanut, many special pats and hugs.

  14. Loretta Adams Said:

    Loretta on Facebook: I cannot understand why the drastic differences, but observed it first hand for eight years.

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Loretta,

    Just a guess but the funding for big New York hospitals is extensive. Very wealthy people —to ensure that they get immediate help when needed—donate big time. It may be the Dutchess county hospitals don’t have access to that much money.
    It was clear that the staff at NYU —even the folks who transported you from place A to place B in a wheelchair– were magnificently trained.

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